November 3, 2016
Pennsylvania Woman Pleads Guilty To Fraudulently Operating Commercial Tour Bus Companies
On November 1, 2016, Shiao Wen Hsieh pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in U.S. District Court, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Hsieh admitted that she made materially false statements on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-regulated commercial carrier forms. Previously, in March 2016, a grand jury had charged 14 individuals with multi-State conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud for their role in fraudulently operating commercial tour bus companies. The indictment contained a forfeiture count to secure assets totaling $7,731,019 in the event of a conviction.
The indictment alleged that the defendants formed, controlled, managed, and operated numerous suspect bus companies—including All-State Travel Bus, Asia Tours, Apex Bus, New Egg Bus, and Universe Bus—and routinely falsified FMCSA Motor Carrier Identification Reports (MCS-150) and applications for FMCSA operating authority (OP-1P). These activities both concealed who operated the companies and that they operated unsafe buses.
Hsieh admitted that she and others incorporated their companies in Pennsylvania and falsely represented that they were headquartered, maintained, and garaged there as well. In fact, the companies operated out of New York City. The indictment also alleged that the false documents enabled the defendants to obtain operating authority, along with licenses, stickers, and other authority, indicating that the buses met Federal and State safety standards. In addition, incorporating in Pennsylvania but operating out of New York reduced their insurance costs.
The defendants allegedly falsified FMCSA-regulated records related to bus safety, maintenance, and driver qualifications to impede FMCSA inspections and reviews. More specifically, the indictment alleged that they submitted false documents indicating that the suspect companies had driver safety and training programs in place when they did not, as well as false records related to accident registers, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, drug- and alcohol-testing programs, and their previous company affiliations and associations.
DOT-OIG is working this investigation jointly with Homeland Security Investigations and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. FMCSA provided substantial assistance.